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Concern Grows in Hazleton over Violence

HAZLETON — After a weekend of violence in Hazleton, and the first deadly shooting there this year, crime in the city is becoming a factor for some people ...
haz shots

HAZLETON -- After a weekend of violence in Hazleton, and the first deadly shooting there this year, crime in the city is becoming a factor for some people who want to sell their homes.

When people come to Victor Lutsky of Action Realty in Hazleton to sell their homes, sometimes part of the reason they're moving is the violence in the city.

"A lot of people mention that as part of the conversation," Lutsky said.

Hazleton saw three people shot in less than 24 hours over the weekend. One of those people -- Gregory Newton of Hazle Township -- died.

Christian Rosado who was wounded is behind bars for illegal gun possession. Police say he and Newton knew each other and got into a fight Saturday night.

The next evening there was a shooting by Beech Street Playground. Police have issued a warrant for Eric Sanchez,19 of Hazleton in connection with the shooting.

One man says violent crime is partly why it took him six months to sell his home in Hazleton at a loss.

"It's a disaster here, with all the crime and the drugs and the shootings and they're not doing nothing about it."

But the violence in Hazleton isn't just a factor for people wanting to sell their homes. It also is impacting businesses wanting to move in.

Krista Schneider of the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce points to Hazleton's image as an obstacle attracting more businesses in the area.

"It's an uphill battle that we're fighting," said Schneider.  "Businesses are obviously concerned about the perception of the safety of the downtown."

Perception is something she's trying to change. But even Hazleton's mayor admits he often receives complaints about the city's violent crime.

"Everybody feels that crime is an issue, business owners, property owners, but again, we could only do what we can do with the limited resources that we have," said Mayor Jeff Cusat.

The investigations into the shootings this weekend continue.

Now Hazleton police are seeking more grant money to be able to hire more officers. If they get the money, police hope to utilize the extra officers for foot and saturation patrols.